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Pole to Pole

Day 50: Limassol and Akrotiri

Akrotiri, Cyprus 
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Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe band of the third battalion the Queen's Regiment brings 'Sussex by the Sea' to a stirring climax, the teams come out onto the pitch again, and I'm hoisted aloft in a Wessex helicopter to have a snifter with the commander of the British forces in Cyprus, Air Vice-Marshal Sandy Hunter and his wife Wilma. They live in a long, comfortable house on top of a fortified ridge, complete with their own helicopter pad. Our drinks are served by a Sudanese butler called Ahmed, a man of great presence and gravity who has worked for the British for thirty-five years. He has family north of Khartoum, 'near railway station Number Six'. Hearing that it is on our route he urges me to visit their riverside village.

'We got island sir and we got home sir. Island very nice, we give you one very good day sir.'

We drive away from Sandy and Wilma's house along a ridge from which we have a fine view of the most beautiful sunset. On one side a long, wide, pale crimson sky stretches across hazy hills, while on the other a full moon is rising.

At midnight I walk along the beach by the hotel. A mile or two further on is Aphrodite's Rock. Legend has it that if you swim three times round it on the night of a full moon you'll live for ever. Well, to paraphrase the chief electrical officer on the Junost, 'Who wants to live for ever anyway?'.

I turn and head back to the hotel.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 50
  • Country/sea: Cyprus
  • Place: Akrotini
  • Book page no: 113

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